“We need someone who understands that the people who make the schools work and the parents who are the first and last educators of our children, that they must be treated like the stakeholders that they are,” de Blasio said at Monday’s announcement at Brooklyn’s William Alexander Middle School, the school his two children attended.
Calling Farina a “brilliant innovator” who “knows how to bring people together,” he said the selection was important not only because she is going to be the chancellor of the city school’s system, but because “she is also going to be the chancellor for my child,” referring to his son Dante, a junior at Brooklyn Technical High School.
“This is such a privilege to be able to come back to a system that has so much work that has to done, but to doing it from stance of a progressive agenda,” Farina said.
Farina, 70, has more than four decades of experience working in the city’s school system, serving as a teacher at P.S. 29 in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn, a principal at P.S. 6 on the Upper East Side, and a superintendent of Brooklyn’s District 15. She last worked for the Department of Education as a deputy chancellor before retiring in 2006.
Taking lessons from her own experiences as a student in the city’s school system, Farina promised to make parents real partners in their children’s education and prioritize college and career readiness.
Farina’s name had been floated around for weeks as one of the top contenders for the job, though she was initially hesitant to come out of retirement.
She will replace current Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott, who is stepping down Tuesday. He has held the position since April 2011.
De Blasio has promised departures from certain education policies of the Bloomberg administration. He proposed to charge rent to charter schools that use space in city school buildings, eliminate letter grades on school progress reports and reduce the focus on high-stake testing
Farina has been a longtime trusted friend and advisor to de Blasio, whom she met while he was a school board member in District 15. She shares his views on testing and will assist in his push for universal pre-k and expansion of after-school programs for middle schoolers.
Among challenges Farina will face as chancellor of the country’s largest public school system is a contract negotiation with the United Federation of Teachers.
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